April, 2013:A Shot will fix you!
There are some diseases or illnesses that have potentially fatal consequences if we are not immunized or otherwise cognizant of them. One of these that has been in the news lately is bacterial meningitis. World Meningitis Day is April 24th, 2013. And the entire week from 20-27 April is National Infant Immunization Week.
Just as the showers in April prepare the way for flowers in May, immunization especially of children , teens and young adults in college is key to preventing tragedy. The LGBTQ community, with mostly males being affected, was advised a few months ago by the NYC Health Department to ensure those most at risk receive the meningococcal vaccine as well.
During the recent Passover/Easter holiday weekend last month, a young 12-year-old girl from Rockland County died having shown none of the classic symptoms – headache, fever, stiff neck. However, most victims will show some if not all of the symptoms. Meningitis is a bacterial infection of the membranes covering the brain and spinal cord (meninges). The infection can cause the tissues around the brain to swell. This in turn interferes with blood flow and can result in paralysis or even stroke.
“Meningitis symptoms usually come on quickly, and the disease can be fatal if not treated right away,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas Farley. “Vaccination is the best defense…” Early diagnosis and treatment are key.
It is good for our immune system to be exposed to germs in general; even these germs can be found in noses and throats but they have not caused meningitis. Meningococcal bacteria can be dangerous in those who may be at risk (the very young, the immunocompromised, anyone living in close quarters such as college dorms). In the case of bacterial meningitis, that could be from kissing or from close contact with oral secretions.